Leading 3 games to 2, the Milwaukee Bucks have a shot at winning the East for the first time in franchise history (they were in the West until 1980) if they’re able to take out the Atlanta Hawks on the road. It also could finally fulfill Brandon Jennings’ infamous “Bucks in 6” prediction from 2013, but even if it doesn’t, the Bucks have two shots at the NBA Finals in the next two games and they may receive a critical reinforcement in a potential Game 7:
There’s belief Bucks star Giannis Antetokounmpo (knee) would be given the green light for a potential Game 7 if Hawks avoid elimination in Game 6 on Saturday, league sources tell @YahooSports.— Chris Haynes (@ChrisBHaynes) July 2, 2021
Where We’re At
Relieved and re-energized after learning that their superstar leader Giannis Antetokounmpo avoided serious injury in Game 4, the Bucks game out highly motivated in Game 5 at home. A big 36 point first quarter and prolific interior scoring overcame continued poor three-point shooting, which helped Milwaukee weather hot Atlanta outside shooting and come out on top 123-112. Brook Lopez assumed Giannis’ scoring duties with a very Giannis-like performance of 33 points on 14/18 shooting. Khris Middleton had a cool 26/13/8 on 10/20 from the field, Jrue Holiday pitched in 25 with 13 dimes, and Bobby Portis further ingrained himself to Wisconsin sports lore with 22 filling in as a starter. Even though the bench only scored 12 (all but 2 coming in the fourth quarter), the team offensive performance was massive on Thursday in Giannis’ absence, despite a more mediocre defensive outing. Let’s hope they show up with similar intensity before a raucous crowd at the State Farm Arena.
The Hawks had a respectable night connecting on 15 of their 38 three-point attempts, led by fan nemesis Bogdan Bogdanovic at 7/16 from deep and 28 points. John Collins hit 3 of his 5 triples and chipped in 19, while Danilo Gallinari had a pesky 19 off the bench thanks to a number of foul calls. For all their success on offense, they had no answer for the Bucks’ penetrative efforts and were outscored a whopping 66-36 in the paint as Clint Capela was played off the floor by Lopez in just 21 minutes. Atlanta also had some turnover trouble with 14 on the night, many of which were of the live-ball variety resulting in 11 Milwaukee steals. Back on their home floor this evening, they’ll hope to get an infusion of fan energy plus the return of Trae Young, who was scratched less than 2 hours before Game 5’s tip as he felt too much foot pain. He is likely a game-time decision tonight.
Giannis has again been declared out with his left knee hyperextension and Donte DiVincenzo is the only other Buck on the injury report. For Atlanta, star point guard Young is still questionable with the right foot bone bruise, and Bogdanovic is probable with nagging right knee soreness. Brandon Goodwin and De’Andre Hunter remain out for the Hawks.
Player To Watch
As he’s been for this entire series, Brook Lopez should be a bellwether for the Bucks’ outcome tonight. Atlanta will presumably tighten up their rim protection; can Lopez continue his onslaught down low? If Young plays, will Lopez zone drop as far on defense to prevent floaters, much like in Game 2? Or will the Bucks come out switching 1–5 like they did from the jump in Game 5? Can Bud lift Lopez and go small without Giannis if the game is close late? Getting these questions right (which Bud mostly has done, to his credit) this evening may be the difference between an NBA Finals berth or a forced Game 7.
Game Six: Against Atlanta, the Bucks will...
This poll is closed
Win big (by 10 or more points)
Win close (by 9 or fewer points)
Lose close (by 9 or fewer points)
Lose big (by 10 or more points)